visiting Lois

faces are not faces any more
but parts of the room
to her–a roomscape
with no sun ever setting
& the days uncharted
by anything but the brightness
of this fluorescent & linoleum reality
of a waiting room
overlooking a courtyard
where I can’t smoke
& walking is difficult
on bricks old & brittle
with winter

& her, thin as the twigs
exposed outside, barely sipping
the chocolate milkshake we brought
from the drivethrough
because even when starving herself absent
she would not refuse ice cream

I feed the woman
who fed me
though she does not remember
telling me

eat more than one pea
at a time, and please, please

stop slipping your macaroni
one piece at a time
over your fork tines.  I can’t
watch you eat

yes, and I can’t threaten
to keep her meal for hours
the way she did liver
& eggplant with me
so I tease, make her smile
for that 1 more taste
& she tells me

You’re not very good looking

when I pout
& she’s right
that day I wasn’t–
week 2 of sleeplessness waiting
for her to breathe out
that 1 last particle of self
& float into awareness
of who she was
again & how
my tired eyes
belonged to my father
whom she loved

& loved the echoes of him
in my face, when she
remembered echoes,
but now I embody me
a stranger she calls mother
because she sees me mother
my children
& her

every time we meet

she has forgotten, too
how she used to say
I was beautiful

Interesting Dverse prompt today using first-person narrative–infusing theater into poetry

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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53 Responses to visiting Lois

  1. brian miller says:

    faces are not faces any more
    but parts of the room…what an opening…hooked me right away…
    have you read victorias? serious synergy going on….ugh on the way she treated you…the things said that stick with you and come back around when you become the caregiver…really great story telling…

  2. claudia says:

    oh heck..what a touching write…so tough to see those that fed us so helpless…the part with your eyes belonging to your dad whom she loved..really moved me deeply..

  3. outstanding piece Susan. Love the choices, the inner feeling you brought out so effectively in here. So many excellent lines as well. Really enjoyed the read. Thanks

  4. annotating60 says:

    This was good Susan. Sometimes you do youeself a disservice by thinking that you need to explain either the setting or the action outside of your poetics. Your words will do that work for you. Have confidence in them.>KB

  5. Mary says:

    Whew, it is so true that at the end of one’s mother’s life one so often becomes their mother too; and I suppose this will happen with the next generation as well. We just don’t like to think of it being us there with the roles reversed in so many ways. Sad. Realistic. Life.

  6. Grace says:

    What a touching story Susan, great voice and emotional punch ~

    Your ending lines are superb ~

  7. Very sad and touching poem, it’s the strangest transition being the carer of your parents, as I enter this time your words really hit home… wonderful write.

  8. Not easy at all is it, caring for someone you love. It is very draining both on the nerves and on the body too. Sad and, as I too cared for my life partner, deeply heart felt too.

  9. Nara says:

    Vivid portrait of a daughter struggling to let go of a parent. That push pull of wanting suffering to end and wanting to find some way to make them better enough to stay a little longer. comes across perfectly in this line: week 2 of sleeplessness waiting
    for her to breathe out
    that 1 last particle of self
    & float into awareness
    of who she was

  10. ruleofstupid says:

    The more I read of you
    The more I understand your fuel
    As you write in the margins

    So the contours of you
    Are given as an accident
    By inverted silhouette

    I will never see your face
    In the white paper that remains
    Yet that void outlined by your art

    Shows me the shape of your heart

  11. Mike–
    That’s just…beautiful

    I have cut
    heart shapes out of paper
    folded & linked
    like paper dolls

    & like my own
    they are fragile
    are prone to repeat
    certain patterns
    & are easily stained

    & you can see the shape of me
    by what’s missing

  12. jmgoyder says:

    You and Victoria are killing me (in a profound way!)

  13. Laurie Kolp says:

    So touching, brings tears to my eyes. Wonderful, Susan.

    • Laurie, thank you. Maybe now I have enough emotional strength to go back and read what the rest of you wonderful people came up with today. I am afraid at the slightest hint of emotion, I’ll start sniffling again…Read Victoria’s poem right after I finished writing this one.

  14. Wow. Brilliant writing, Susan. Heartfelt and gut wrenching. We are almost at this point with Sherry’s mother, and Sherry’s dad passed away two years ago. I feel for you. It’s hard.

  15. janehewey says:

    wow. this is clarity. it is my new favorite of yours, Susan. you wrapped me in with the chocolate milkshake- so close to home. this is so much more than a slice of life. it is life. loss and love.

    • Jane, thank you. I have a series of poems regarding my mother’s illness, and I thought I was done writing them. Apparently not. Some things you just can’t close the book on that easily. Glad this spoke to oyu.

  16. ManicDdaily says:

    Beautiful poem, Susan. Agree with Brian that the beginning draws one in immediately. Very touching. k.

  17. Kelvin S.M. says:

    ..i hate you because you wet my face… ha, of course i won’t hate you because you touched my heart… i do love my mum( no words can define how much..) and this so reminded me of my relationship with her..and if there’s one thing your poem leaves me after i read it it’s the promise to offer my love and care for my mum and yes for my dad as well full heartedly and endlessly… very..very moving… excellent.. smiles…

  18. airong222 says:

    This is outstanding. I have been watching my life gradually moving toward the story you wrote in poetry. It was as if you wrote it for me personally. I’m glad I found your blog and your work will be on my regular radar. Thanks for sharing your gift. ~G

  19. vivinfrance says:

    Brave poet – to tackle what so many of us are scared to start. Beautiful evocation of the interchangeability of the daughter/parent roles.

  20. David King says:

    Your opening lines are tremendous, they ring through the whole poem. Remarkable write.

  21. myrthryn says:

    Very touching indeed, Susan. The tenderness shown amongst the recollections is done very well.

  22. nelle says:

    So poignant, felt throughout my being. I don’t know what else to say but wish life granted more graceful exits.

  23. Poignant and beautiful, Susan, the comments above say it all …

  24. Tony says:

    Oh Susan, this is so emotionally powerful and so beautifully written. There is such sadness in seeing those who cared for us now in need of our care, and more sadness still when they don’t know who we really are.

  25. Poignantly beautiful, Susan.

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